Two beautiful stories have fascinated Malayali minds for generations – one of Sage Parasuram throwing an axe (‘mazhu’) to recover land from the sea and another one about the adventurous trip of Saint Thomas to India in 52 AD. As a young child, I too have got thrilled about the mighty throw and adventurous trip by sea. Little did I realise then that these mythological incidents would get into our history books one day. As in all other spheres, the foreign Saint has beaten the native Sage in the race. Now that the Saint has overtaken the Sage into history books, it is unfair to leave the Sage behind. Here are a few tips for a fair settlement.
The single act that carried the day for the Saint was his climb on Malayatoor hills and leaving behind his footprints on the rock for future generations to really see. Divinity of the Saint made him leave the footprints on solid rock and not on any perishable materials. That has made it much easier for the Holy See to declare Malayatoor as an international pilgrimage centre and thus carry the whole story into the history books. The narration used to go as follows “After receiving wholeheartedly the mandate to evangelise the world, Saint Thomas set out on an arduous journey which saw him land in the land of spices. He set foot at Kodungalloor, the famous port of yester years, in AD 52 …… His missionary expeditions took him far and wide, and while traversing through the famous caravan route Saint Thomas came to Malayattoor. According to Ramban paattu, Saint Thomas emulated his Lord and deliberately went up the mountain to converse with the Lord. Tradition has this story that, in deep anguish and agony, Saint Thomas prayed to the Lord and upon touching the rock, blood sprang forth from it”. Now there is still a place called Malayatoor and on the hills there is a shrine. And most importantly there are foot prints on the rock. Good enough reasons to elevate mythology into the history books and we cannot blame the Holy See of any propaganda for conversion. To complete the picture we could have even fixed a date for the climb – why not 30 September, AD52?
Now let us take up the case of Sage Parasuram. Again the story went as follows “Parasuram was the 4th son of Sage Jamadagni and Renuka. He learnt the art of weaponry from Lord Siva. King Karthaveerajunan was fascinated by Jamadagni's cow and demanded it. Since the Sage refused to part with the cow, the King decapitated the Sage and forcibly took the cow away. The news infuriated Parasuram and he went to Mahishmaatipura and challenged Karthaveerajunan to a duel. Parsuram defeated Karthaveerajunan and avenged his father's death. For generations, he carried on annihilations of the Kshaktriyas (the martial race). As a mark of repentance for this sin, Parasuram meditated at Gokarna and invoked Lord Varuna (the Lord of the Oceans). Parasuram asked him for a boon. To absolve himself of the heinous crimes he had committed, he wanted to gift some land to the Brahmins. There was no land available. Lord Varuna told Parasuram that he would give him as much land as he wished. He told him to fling his traditional axe (Mazhu ) from where he stood at Gokarna. The land from Gokarna till the point where the `Mazhu' landed would be given to him was the boon that Lord Varuna promised him. The throw of the `Mazhu' from Gokarna to Kanyakumari created Kerala. Parashuram donated this land to the Brahmins”.
Here again, we have both the locations (Gokarna and Kanyakumari) still in place. And instead of footprints we have the full state of Kerala intact. What more is needed for giving the Sage too his credit? If our archaeologists are smart enough, we could have even unearthed parts of the giant axe; and we cannot blame the Sage for that. So in all fairness, Sage Parasuram’s heroic act should also make it into our history books. It is now up to the counterpart of the Holy See to elevate the Sage’s story into the history of India. As for the date, something like 12 January, BC5532 would be logical enough. And why not have an anniversary of the historic throw every year? I am sure I have given enough ideas for a controversial debate in history.